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Olympics Obsession



I am obsessed with the Olympics.

Literally obsessed.  Night after night we stack up on the couch and watch whatever NBC picks for us to cheer that evening. Watching Michael Phelps win gold after gold (after gold) was so cool. And the Simone’s?! Katie Ledecky? They are all incredible!!! It’s truly amazing to see these incredible athletes do their thing.

There have been a lot of neat stories to come from the Olympics … Michael Phelps coming back after overcoming some personal demons, the 41 year old gymnast (Really?! Just wow) and many, many others.  The story yesterday of the USA 5000 runner helping the Australian up after a brutal fall … that was the Olympic spirit at it’s finest.

But one of my favorite stories from this years Olympics hasn’t gotten much press but it is truly the story I love the most. It is the story of a swimmer from Spain, Miguel Navia who was set to swim the 400 meter freestyle. He was a longshot even to final but just getting the opportunity to swim in an Olympic race was a dream come true.

When Navia stood up on the blocks waiting for the signal to start he fell in. Literally fell off the blocks into the pool as the crowd gasped.  What normally would be called a “false start” in other swim meets, in the Olympics equals an immediate disqualification.

Miguel slapped the water in disappointment, knowing he was done, and got out of the pool.  The TV  announcer said: “well, that’s the worst thing that could happen” as Navia gathered his parka and headed out of the swim facility in tears.

The crowd, in a show of sympathy, begins to clap and gave him a standing ovation as he exited. It was enough to choke up even those of us watching from the couch.  I SO wanted him to have another chance.

The swimmers prepared to get back on the blocks when all of a sudden a huge cheer erupted from the crowd. The other swimmers looked around confused as to why they were cheering.

And then Navia re-entered the arena.

Unbelievably the judge determined that Navia did not fall in the pool as a result of his own error. The judges conferred and determined that “he had heard a noise in the crowd that caused him to false start”.

He was allowed to swim.

This never happens. No one thought it was going to happen … but it did!

Navia didn’t final … he was 8 seconds behind the swimmers who made the finals in the almost four minute race ,,,

But he got to swim.

And I think the reason I love his story so much is because it is our story. Each one of us falls off the block in our lives. We may feel like the announcer’s words  … “well, that’s the worst thing that could happen” or feel like we have failed and have no chance of getting back in the race.

But because of God’s redemptive death on the cross … no matter what we have done, it is not the worst thing … he forgives us. As the Psalmist says … “he throws our sins as far as the east is from the west”.

He tells us to get back on on the blocks.

When circumstances aren’t what we had hoped or dreamed?  It’s still not the worst thing.

Even then He tells us to get back up on the blocks.

He wants us in the race.

There are no gold medals or endorsements … but there is peace and joy.

We get to swim!

Enjoy your race.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:7-8